Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yer money and shaddup

Last night I went to the first Friday of the month aperitif chez some friends, held for expediency's sake on the second Friday of the month. It's a jolly gathering of English and French speaking folks who bring along a dish and a bottle. Having 3.5kg of British cheese in my fridge for a cheese and wine that had been cancelled, we took along that good old British snack, cheese on Ritz biscuits, with a dash of Branston. This was to be a special treat for all those poor old Brits who long for the nostalgic taste of a bit of cheddar. Even some of the French were brave enough to take a nibble. Talk about living on the edge...

While the boys were dashing around the garden with the others, appearing only to grap a cocktail sausage or 5, I was chatting to a young American called Ethan Pierse. He's an American who lives over here and uses the internet to work in the US. It sounded a pretty cool way of working except that the dollar is so low, of course.

He has in internet marketing company and we were chatting generally about the internet, Macs (he's a Mac user) and French companies and their websites. My personal opinion of commercial websites here is that they are pretty user-unfriendly and you get the feeling that companies do not want you to contact them under any circumstances, so make it extremely difficult. Emailing from websites is precarious, if you actually manage to provide enough information for them to accept the message. Cegetel is particularly bad with this.

Not surprisingly, Mr Pierse has an opinion on the subject and not exactly a favourable one either. We had a cosy chat about how crappy so many websites are and I asked him if he ever worked with French companies. Not really, he said, as they are always looking to go for the cheapest option and he is not the cheapest option although he says he can make them healthy profits once they've made the investment.

French companies do rather have the opinion that the customer is a pain, and certainly never right. They are happy to take your money, but you should be as quick about it as possible and certainly not want further information about details. My continuing saga with Cegetel is at the stage where I wrote them a weary letter telling them they were my phone providers at the time of the broadband issue so they have all my details in my file, so they only have to look instead of getting me to run around finding old invoices and sending them off again. I doubt I'll get a response especially as they have 'graciously' reimbursed me 10Euros for the 100Euros I spent on their crappy technical helpline to no effect. An archetypal French company.

La Redoute isn't much better either. I'm still waiting for the order I sent in on May 22. I've been to the 'relais' 3 times and spoken to La Redoute twice and sent 3 emails. They even reordered for me having decided that the first order had gone astray. I told them I could have planted the cotton and made the stuff myself in the time it's taken to get it to me. No suggestion of compensation, natch. I'm going to make an attempt to get the stuff today, as I have been assured that it is now available. Wish me luck...


  1. Hi Sarah - How great to see your blog entry... Long live Macs and Customer Service.

    I hope to see you again soon at another party or maybe at Fitzpatrick's for a Guinness ;)

    A Bientôt

    Internet Marketing and Business Development by Advenir.

  2. Thanks Ethan, long live the pub!

  3. Hi Sarah -

    I don't have your email, but I wanted to invite you to a social/business networking evening I am hosting next Friday (September 29th).

    More info is at Montpellier Social Business Networking Event Details.

    It would be nice to see you again; I hope that you can come. Feel free to spread the word to anyone you'd like.



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